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Timex TM80B review: Timex TM80B

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The Timex TM80B is pretty simple to operate. We took a quick look at the manual to figure out how to toggle between the radio, flash drive, or external audio source and discovered pretty quickly that if you hit the "settings" button, it adjusts the equalizer settings (you have a choice between Jazz, Classical, Flat, and Rock, with Jazz seeming to offer the most bass). To set the time and alarm--you can awake to either an MP3 on your SD card or flash drive, the radio, or a buzzer--you use the buttons on the front of the unit. The snooze bar on top of the TM80B doubles as a dimmer, so you can turn off all the blue backlighting on the clock's display if it bothers you. The numbers on the clock are of ample size and easy to read, so no complaints there. We only wish that there was a tuning knob to match the nice big volume control--we'll take dials over up/down buttons any day.

As with the alarm, the sleep timer can be set to lull you to sleep--by radio, MP3/WMA, or line-in source--in increments from 15 to 120 minutes. Unlike the sleep and alarm functions found on more expensive tabletop radios (such as the Cambridge SoundWorks 820HD), the volumes for each alarm and sleep functions can't be set independently--but the alarm does ramp up from zero when it goes off, so you won't be blasted out of bed.

As noted, the TM80B has a line-in jack for plugging in other portable audio devices. It also comes with two AA batteries (they slip into the bottom of the unit) that keep the clock running in the event of a power outage. But the speaker and flash drive adapter are powered by a 10V AC adapter, not batteries, so the TM80B isn't really designed to be moved from room to room.

As you might expect from a single speaker this small, the Timex TM80B doesn't deliver a terribly impressive sound experience, but--as clock radios go--it isn't bad, either. Keep the volume in the low to medium range, and it delivers perfectly passable sound. A home stereo system it isn't, but it's well suited for a little light bedroom or home office listening.

Interestingly, we were able to browse and play back the contents of an iPod Nano when plugging it into the TM80B's USB port. Of course, if you're really interested in an iPod-friendly clock radio at this price point, you're better off with one of the TM80B's companion products--the Timex TI700S or the iHome iH8--both of which are manufactured by SDI.

Bottom line: we like the Timex TM80B's compact size, simple, attractive design, and it sounds OK for what it is. While there are certainly less expensive clock radios out there, few (if any) allow you to play tunes from a flash drive or memory card. We'd like to see it priced closer to $60 (sorry, SDI, you've spoiled us with your entry-level units), but at $75, it's not a bad deal.

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